The notion of sexual imprinting, or sexual preference based on
parental characteristics, has long been studied by evolutionary
psychologists, who research mental and psychological traits
relating to natural selection. Some experts suggest imprinting
has persisted because it increases genetic compatibility between
But this detailed mode of measurement is a new tool for
mapping how sexual imprinting works.
Forty-nine Polish women were asked to select the most
attractive face from a series of 15 photographs. Their choices'
facial measurements were then compared with those of their
fathers' faces. Ears, neck, shoulders and hair were excluded to
emphasize the eyes, mouth, chin and nose and to prevent results
from being influenced by style choices.
Women who reported good relations with their fathers tended
to choose men with more facial similarities.
Sexual imprinting is believed to be independent of genetics,
since previous studies have shown that women's positive
relationships with their adoptive fathers also led them to
choose mates who looked like dad, Dr. Boothroyd wrote in the
The research was released with celebrity examples such as
Nigella Lawson, the British food writer whose husband,
advertising executive Charles Saatchi, shares the elegant facial
proportions of her father, Nigel Lawson, a former chancellor of
Here in Canada, a cursory scan of photographic evidence
suggests that Belinda Stronach's ex, Johann Olav Koss, resembles
her father, Frank, more than does her sometimes-escort Tie Domi.
And Caroline Mulroney's hubby, Andrew Lapham, has a certain
Brian Mulroney air about him.
Toronto-based professional matchmaker Ruth Claramunt says the
research backs up her observations on the dating front line with
her company Hearts Introduction Service.
“It's so true,” she says. “They could have just asked me!”
Recently, Ms. Claramunt says she watched science in motion
when a female client chose a daddy doppelganger.
“She was gorgeous and tall – she could have had a GQ type,”
the matchmaker says. “But she wanted a huge teddy bear like her
father. That's who she's with now.”
Men, on the other hand, do not tend to choose women based on
their relationships with their mothers, she says.